Paradox | Literary Term - Definition, Characteristic and Examples | Learning The Easy Way


Paradox is a self-contradictory statement that hides a rational meaning. Originally it is just a view which contradicted accepted opinion. For example, "Sweet are the uses of adversity". In the logical sense this line appears contradictory. Generally, adversity is bitter. But if we go to deeper we find the truth that adversity carries within itself the sweetness of advantages. So, we can say that paradox is an actually self-contradictory statement, but it is essentially true.  

Paradox can prove to be very exposing about human nature and the way to be speak. If someone say to you "I'm a compulsive liar", do you believe them or not? It is the example of Paradox. Because it is self-contradictory. At the most basic level, a paradox is a statement that is self-contradictory because it often contains two statements that are both true, but in general, cannot both the true at the same time.

Paradox is a rhetorical device. It is very common in epigrammatic writing. 

Examples of Paradox from Everyday Life:

Wise fool

I am nobody

The beginning of the end.

Examples of Paradox according to English Literature:

In George Orwell's Animal Farm, we find "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than other."

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, we also find "I must be cruel only to be kind."

From John Donne, we find,
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me. 

Emily Dickinson said,
"Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed"

In the above examples all the statement are self-contradictory logically. But if we go to deeper we find the truth.

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